The weakest link on your team effects the performance of the entire team.  More often than not, my leadership coaching involves developing leaders to effectively address performance issues. And, the performance issue, weakest link, often has not been addressed in a timely manner. As a leader you need to understand that you truly are only as good as your weakest employee.

While leading a team you always want to make sure that you have the best team members for the teams mission. And a clear list of your strengths and weaknesses by team member is a starting point.  Once you know where you are falling short as a team, it is up to you to decide whether or not this problem can be rectified or if it would be more beneficial to let the team member go.

Turning Around the Weakest Link

If you have decided that the individual can be coached and developed so they aren’t the weakest link, then this is when a performance improvement plan needs to be developed.   Make sure that all issues are discussed and be completely honest with your employee when reviewing them. They need to understand their job threatening behaviors that if not turned around will result in termination. Make this very clear!

This is when you need to get their committment to a timeline when they are going to complete the necessary tasks. Don’t allow them to be non specific with dates and times. A specific commitment should be formed like a SMART goal so it should be very specific to the task needed to be completed as well as the due date. And if you think the time line is unrealistic, either too short or too long, question them on how they decided on the specific date and coach them to a more reasonable time frame.

During the improvement plan, make sure to monitor and give feedback on the employee’s progress.  This is also a time to observe them.  Are they coming to you and taking the initiative to get feedback from you?  If they are, this is a good sign that they are really want to turn the situation around. If on the other hand, they seem to be hiding and not wanting to interface with you; this is a red flag.

Eliminating the Weakest Link

If after the time frame has come and the commitments have not been met, then it is time for the employee’s employment to be severed. Make sure that this step be done in a timely manner as well.

If the process has been done correctly, there should be no surprises. Your goal is to have the employee leave with his or her head up high and feel like they were treated fairly by you and the company. If you are unable to accomplish this you risk your employer brand being tarnished.

The main thing that you need to remember is that you have to be honest with your team members and their evaluation.  Give them a course of action with an accurate time frame and you will be surprised to see how much can be changed in a short amount of time.

Have you ever dealt with a team member who was past the point of corrective action, and if so what are ways you dealt with the delicate subject?

Additional References
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